Monday, June 28, 2010

World Cup 2010 - Thanks for a happy June

My desktop wallpaper of June, courtesy of Naver

So we're out. We made it to top 16, but Uruguay, or should I say Luis Suarez, made us bid farewell to World Cup 2010. Such a disappointment. Not only for the team, but for the whole nation that was in absolute festival mood.

Of course the tournament lasts till July, but the other team in red that I was rooting for, England, got trashed by Germany (with probably one of the most controversial judgement mishaps in World Cup history), so my interest is running thin.

June was bliss, though. I realized how important looking forward to things are, whatever the consequences might be. Hoping for things, dreaming for things.
And obviously I wasn't the only one who felt this; the whole nation was in an economical, political and social rut, needing something, anything to uplift our spirits so the World Cup was just what we needed.

Korean portal site Naver, updated their main page logo banner almost every single day according to the dreams and hopes we had, ending with poignant thanks to the Taeguk Warriors and the memories they have given us. (We Koreans are a sappy, sentimental bunch.)

Naver wasn't the only one playing around with logos:

This month for us, love was indeed football.

How many hardcore fans actually wore red underwear, I wonder?

Almost everyone had the red t-shirt, of course.

Or other paraphenalia.

Many rewatched highlight scenes on touch screen media poles in metro stations,

or participated in an event endorsed by a celebrity. (Yoo Jae Seok in this one.)
I know I'm not the only one who drooled over our footballers on storefronts.

It's quite likely that shop and building owners were most lenient about graffiti this month.

Some fans went to the max, creating mindboggling works of cute. Like the husband and wife duo "Ramble couple" who made a World Cup themed lunchbox. The rest of the photos (and other recipes) are on their blog:

I wonder if they took down the special "rooting zones" set up by big corporate sponsors like SK Telecom, now that we're not in it anymore.

"Once again, Dae~ Han Min Guk!" T-stadium in Myeongdong.
Completely red building, big screen display.

The steel frame structure was covered in red by shiny discs linked together, with cheering messages written by fans.

I wrote one, too. "Always rooting for you!"

Panorama clip:

Going home after the final game. Almost two in the morning. The city of Seoul ran their public transportation system several hours longer than usual (it was a Saturday) to accomodate the fans who were cheering in public places. This is Samseong station, line 2.

I had to change to a bus after the subway. It was drizzling. A young couple was desperately trying to catch a taxi; they were halfway out in the deserted street. Had we won, I don't think they would have looked so forlorn.

Don't want to end on a sad note, cause "we had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun!" - that sort of thing. We're still damn proud of our players and their efforts; we have supported them, support them, will support them no matter what. (If you have been in Korea during a World Cup year you know that's not hyperbole.)

Last World Cup related photo will be red devil masks of my favorite cutie Lee Chung Yong and the brilliant Park Ji Sung.

And so life goes on.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

World Cup 2010 - Promotion Mania

Support banner in front of the World Trade Center complex COEX

Bear with me. As long as Korea is still in this, I'm going to be talking about the World Cup. Since our final match of the first round is coming up with our team's future uncertain, I'm posting the remainder of my photos to be on the safe side.
Should we pass this round, I assure you there still would be endless things to post about, so even if you're not a football fan, especially if you're not a football fan, just bear with me. It's not as if I talk about actual football, anyway.

I think this is the only official mascot - i.e. non-Red Devil - promotion I've seen. Entry of COEX Mall from the metro station. Talking about the metro, there are a lot of promotions being done in the stations. The following ads featuring figure skating Olympic gold medalist Yuna Kim and the K-pop group Big Bang are plastered everywhere. In Red Devil attire, of course.

The Seoul Metro are also promoting the use of the trains as transportation to outdoor cheering locations on their bulletin boards.

World Cup related promotion has got to be the easiest thing ever, for you can link it to almost anything and everything. Like cosmetics. If you're going to cheer outside, you definitely need sunscreen. If you buy one, you get one free - we call those promotions "1+1".

You're going to make appointments, share your feelings about the match; the telecommunications companies are definitely going to join in the hoopla. KT is promoting a "national cheering campaign" and their official web site blasts a World Cup cheering song in the intro page.

Convenience stores have a variety of goods - promotion jackpot.

Fast-food joints offer special sets and packs, like a 1+1 shrimp burger promotion at Lotteria.

UNO is offering gifts with a roulette game:

Room service "cheering" set at the Park Hyatt includes balloon sticks, aka thunder sticks.
The most common promotional item is the t-shirt. I have no idea how the companies are going to deal with leftover stock, as the slogans change with every World Cup year. There are companies that have printed generic phrases on their t-shirts which I think is a smart option. Especially for the non-clothing related companies who just created shirts for the occasion, like character shop Dalki:
Many sportswear brands have high profile K-pop idols for their main models. Spris features 2PM:
SPAO feature Super Junior. They also have Girls' Generation (SNSD) but I only took a photo of the boys. Heh.
Basic House has Kim Hyun Joong of SS501 as their posterboy:

BSX has several big guns on their roster: Big Bang (who were in the promotions with Yuna, way above), heartthrob actor So Jisub, and hiphop guru Tiger JK. They wrapped their whole flagship store:

Then there are the brands who participate in the promotions, without spending ridiculous amounts of money on celebrity models:

I got my red t-shirt from peter & paul at the COEX mall:
And one of the funniest promotions I've seen: 50% off on red lingerie.

Plushies get in the mood. Quite hilarious, because Rilakkuma is a Japanese character.

The final match with Nigeria is up in a few hours. I'm thankful I work from home. Can't imagine how difficult it would be for the people who stay up to watch the match (which starts at 3:30 am) to go to work tomorrow. I predict there will be a lot of dozing off in meetings, although I'm quite sure it will be forgiven.

Friday, June 18, 2010

World Cup 2010 - Cheering in red!

Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Park Chu Young (ROK) for Adidas

So Argentina totally creamed us yesterday. I mean, like totally. OMG they were good. They wove in and out of our defense like pro skiiers on amateur slaloms. Our players were playing with all their might, we were cheering them on like no tomorrow, but it just wasn't enough. You really do have to give credit where credit is due - Argentina had a better team, period.

I had to watch the first game at home due to a sore throat and fever, but feeling better this time around I went out to meet friends to cheer on our national team.

Koreans take cheering seriously, especially if it concerns the national team. We're such a tiny country that when fellow countrymen try to make an impact in the international world in whatever field, we cheer them on like mad. Mad!

Our national team wears red. The official football team supporters call themselves the "Red Devils", a term that was adopted from the foreign press when the national youth football team made a surprise entry into the semifinals of the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship. The foreign press had dubbed our team the "red furies" - which was translated into 'angma (악마, devil)' at the time and the name stuck.

So when the World Cup comes around, the Red Devils and most of the nation come out in full support, wearing red. Public places are cleared to make space for communal cheering. Football stadiums, baseball stadiums, public plazas and even streets are blocked off and traffic veered in other directions to make way for the fans. Jumbo screens are set up where there aren't any. Festivities are planned to entertain the waiting fans, who usually are in place at the cheering grounds way in advance. (See video clip below.)

Can you imagine? The games are happening on another continent, at the other side of the world! In 2002, when we were cohosting, it was 1000 times more intense than this.

Anyhow, I went by COEX before the game where the street in front, a 4.6 km, 14 lane street was being completely cleared for the fans. See:

Waiting crowd:

I ran into two girls who were selling slogan mufflers. They were so cute! I had to ask if I could take a photo and thankfully they obliged. (두 분, 정말 귀여웠어요! 사진 찍게 해줘서 감사! 해상도 높은 사진 필요하면 이메일 주세요. ^_^)

I thought the Lee Chung Yong (the cutie that I mentioned at the end of my previous post) mask over the teddybear backpack was a nice touch.
Left the crowd and went to the other side. Photo from above: 3 hours before the game, when only half of the street was cleared for rush hour traffic.

This is what the street looked like when the game started: photo from Newsis. A true sea of red!

Friends and I headed to another indoor venue to cheer on the team. Mini sea of red.
Photo of the screen we were watching on. The blurry dude is Lee Chung Yong (again!), who managed to score the single goal against Argentina, preventing a complete blowout.
(See? He's a fine player. I don't like him just because he's cute!)

My voice is still gone from yesterday. Our next game is scheduled for Wednesday, at 3:30 am. Unless I'm sick as heck, I'll probably be somewhere in the crowd at that insane hour. In red, of course.